No Mayonnaise in Ireland

Phil Whitley's picture

Warner Robbins, Air Force Base, 1963, and I was the “New kid” in the shop. It was my first job as an Electronics Technician—fresh out of school with an A.S. degree, First Class Radiotelephone license and absolutely, totally alone in this town full of strangers. The only people I knew were the guys I worked with, and they all had families and friends.

After a couple of months there, one of the men invited me to a social gathering he and his wife had planned. It was a semi-formal party, and fortunately, I had packed one suit that would have to do.

On the night of the party, I almost backed out. I knew I wouldn’t know anyone there except the host, and I didn’t even know him that well. I knew that it was up to me to make new friends and get involved with people outside of work.

My first thought upon arriving was that I felt that everyone was dressed nicer than I was. After a few introductions, I grabbed a cup of punch and a few snacks and headed for the one wall where no one was standing. I decided that I would stay just long enough to not be rude, and make my escape.

Just as I was about to leave, a tuxedo-clad man walked over. He smiled pleasantly, shook my hand, and said, “No mayonnaise in Ireland,” with a hint of European accent.

This is some kind of joke, I thought, but quick wit that I am, replied, “And there’s no catsup in Denmark either.”

He looked at me very strangely and dropped my hand. He gave me another smile, although nervously this time, then waved at someone across the room. He left rather hurriedly, as I did. Driving back to my apartment that night, I kept thinking about those strange words, and how lucky I was to have gotten away from there when I did. Definitely not my kind of people.

I told that story for many years, still wondering what it meant, or what that guy was up to. I really felt that he was some kind of pervert with a very original “come-on” line. I prided myself on my quick response, and my decision to leave that party!

One night, as I was once again telling the story, I heard my own words as I said, “No mayonnaise in Ireland”.

Oh, my God! The guy was just trying to make me feel welcome in a room full of strangers when he approached me and said, “No man is an island.”

I’ll bet he still tells the story of the new guy at the party who responded to that classic line with, “And there’s no catsup in Denmark either.”


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Submitted by boo boo on Tue, 02/03/2009 - 4:48am.

This story gave my family some cackles tonight. I was reading it and let out a cackle and everyone wanted to know what I was cackling about so of course I had to read your story to everyone. As I was reading it I almost couldn't get the words out because I was laughing so hard. We relate because we have foreigners in and out of this house. I'm all the time saying stuff they don't understand and for sure I don't get what they say.

As an example my young(4) grand daughter who is part foreigner was asking me for something on the counter one day and she was being impatient with me and I said with my back to her, just hold your pants on, and I'll be darned when I turned around she was holding her pants up...of course you had to be there but it was just hilarious. I learned then she takes me literally so I have to be careful what I say to her in the future.

On one of your other posts you mentioned a crank telephone. That brought back old memories...our number way back when was a long, two shorts, and a long...don't know why I remember that. When we got the dial phones, they made our area phones with time limits, you could talk for 5 minutes, got one warning then were cut off. I guess that was for the gossips in the area,we had a couple as I remember. My Mom didn't have time to listen in, she had 6 kids. My sis still has the old crank phone and decorates it every Xmas..ah memories...

So Phil thanks for the laughs, I enjoy your posts. Even though I didn't grow up in the South it sure sounds about the same as where I came from. Laughter makes life seem a little brighter, we all need a good laugh once in while..

Phil Whitley's picture
Submitted by Phil Whitley on Tue, 02/03/2009 - 1:48pm.

for the reply and kind words. I really appreciate knowing someone is reading (and especially enjoying) my stories.

I still have my grandmother's old crank telephone. At one time I had a real phone wired inside so it could be used, but few people today want to stand at the wall and talk!

You're right... people ARE the same all over!

Phil (friends call me Brew)

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